First there was Massachusetts’ Republican Scott Brown who wooed and won over his state’s voters with a message of frugality and a personal narrative. Now Wisconsin’s Scott Walker is beginning to impress some GOP bigwigs who think that if he isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread he could be anther Scott Brown.
According to ABC’s Teddy Davis, two GOPers with good political eyes — Jeb Bush (who’d probably be a frontrunner this year if there wasn’t that teeney weenie problem with his last name) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who is making noises like he may run by most likely is doing a GOP Mario Cuomo imitation and will not bite the bullet and enter the race) — are impressed. And just read this piece. Doesn’t it remind you of someone?
Wisconsin Republicans have yet to nominate a candidate for governor. Indeed, the state’s primary is not until Sept. 14. But two national GOP heavyweights — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — are bullish on the prospects of Scott Walker, the self-described, brown-bag-packing county executive of Milwaukee.
“The guy is a fantastic candidate,” Bush said. “The event that we did together, he gave a stump speech that sounded like it was the last three days of the campaign. I mean, he was on fire. It was, it was, he’s the real deal.”
The Wisconsin governor’s race is one of the 2010 contests that could have implications in the 2012 White House race. Much more so than senators, governors tend to command the kind of state political machinery that can make a difference in a presidential contest
Although President Obama carried the state by 14 points over John McCain in 2008, the state was a major battleground in 2004 when John Kerry won the state by 1 percent and in 2000 when Al Gore carried the state by less than 1 percent, a mere 5,708 votes.
Walker, 42, has put anecdotes about his personal frugality at the center of his campaign. In all his campaign messaging, he touts himself as someone who “drives a 1998 Saturn with 100,000 miles on it” and who “packs the same brown-bag lunch before heading to the office to save money: two ham and cheese sandwiches on wheat with mayo.“
The last time a Republican got publicity for talking about a ham sandwich was in 2006 was then-Virginia Senator George Allen who in reference to his Jewish ancestors defensively proclaimed: “I still had a ham sandwich for lunch.”
Here’s a You Tube from Walker’s campaign organization of Walker talking 7 months ago so you can judge for yourself whether Jeb Bush is correct about his stump style:
A man of the people? A pick up truck? Bragging about mayo? Is there deja vu here?
Politics has long been marked by the term “bag man.”
But now a “brown bag man?”
Instead of a talk about bags stuffed with suspicious cash, will state (and national) talk center on bags bag stuffed with ham and cheese — instead of the usual hammy and cheesey performance of cookie cutter politicians who these days seem to all to be running around doing talk show host imitations or seemingly quoting angry blog posts or name calling blog comments.
There is a signficant, larger poliical issue here.
Amid the many signs of rigid ideological purity, what looks like the beginings of a virtual party purge, plus signs that the party may not enlarge its tent but restrict access, something else is clearly happening.
The party is getting some new faces that will dominate the new and old media — faces of people who are using a different approach than trying to run as new Newt Gingriches or sound like Sean Hannity…candidates who by the way they speak and present themselves have a different kind of appeal.
Is that happening on the Democratic party side, too?
UPDATE: Redstate and CNN contributor Eric Ericson’s reaction:
Jeb Bush is endorsing him and, miracle of miracles, Newt Gingrich and I are on the same side here. Walker is a compelling candidate for Wisconsin. This is a man who gave back part of his government salary because he thought it was too much.
If I lived in Wisconsin, I’d be voting for him.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.